How a rising basketball star used a squishy air pillow to recover from injury and elevate her game
- Amanda Zahui B is enjoying the best season of her WNBA career despite serious pre-season injuries.
- The LA Sparks star credits Waff - an inflatable exercise and recovery tool - for her success.
- Insider spoke to Zahui B and her PT, Fabrice Gautier, about Waff and how it's benefitted the team.
Amanda Zahui B has long been a rising star in the WNBA.
But this year, even after suffering a debilitating back injury and fighting through a lingering Achilles' tendon issue during the offseason, the seventh-year center for the Los Angeles Sparks is enjoying her best season.
In large part, she credits her straightforward recovery and subsequent success on the hardwood to a strange little contraption - one that looks like a circular, inflatable pillow - called Waff.
"You see it, and you're like, 'Oh my God, that's a floaty for the pool!'" Zahui B told Insider. "But then it changes your whole life."
Waff is an exercise and recovery tool that promotes balance and stability, improves strength, and addresses a whole host of additional bodily functions. It comes in three different sizes - mini, for "shorter and more efficient exercises"; medium, for "muscle strengthening, stretching, and cardio-muscular training"; and max, for recovery.
For Zahui B, implementing the various Waff sizes into her "daily routine" and working with Health and Performance Specialist Fabrice Gautier - an osteopath and licensed physical therapist on Waff's advisory board - helped her return to the court following her back and Achilles injuries. But even further, her Waff training regimen with Gautier has helped her improve her sleep, recover from the strains of professional basketball more efficiently, and prevent future physical complications.
Here's Zahui B putting a Waff mini to use:
"It really helped me recover like from the Achilles and also when I injured my back to get me back this season," Zahui B said. "Waff was literally everything I did and the only thing I did for recovery, for strength, for balance, literally everything. And now it's part of my daily routine."
"It's just helped me take better control over my body," she added.
It's shown on the court. Zahui B has recorded career highs in points per game, blocks per game, minutes per game, and free-throw percentage. Her length has also helped bolster Los Angeles' team on the defensive end.
And she isn't the only athlete reaping the benefits of Waff. Everyone from NFL quarterback Russell Wilson and running back Todd Gurley to NBA superstars LeBron James, Kevin Love, and Lonzo Ball have been spotted using the Waff to enhance their athletic performance.
WNBA players beyond Zahui B use it, too. Independently of their starting center, the Sparks struck up a partnership with Waff - the brand's first deal with an American sports team - to give players access to the tool's balance, strength, and recovery benefits.
"The funny part is that the partnership originated with Courtney Watson, their head athletic trainer when they were in the bubble," Gautier told Insider. "She witnessed [then-Los Angeles stars] Chelsea Gray and Candace Parker - who were players that I was working with - and she said something very clever. She said she realized that both Candace and Chelsea were falling better."
"The awareness of their movement and their body got so much better that they actually didn't get injured, and they were really feeling that they were more and more in control of their movements," he added.
The Sparks' partnership with Waff is just one in a series of moves to prioritize athlete well-being within their franchise. They inked a six-figure deal to partner with nutrition brand Fuel Your Life, providing each player her custom diet plan. And in May, the three-time WNBA champions announced a partnership with recovery brand Hyperice that gives players access to heat-therapy products and massage tools.
"Out here in LA, everyone and anyone from coaches and GMs to our trainers, strength and conditioning coaches, they all emphasize how important it is to really take care of our bodies outside of the court," Zahui B said. "Because if we don't, we won't be successful, and we will not reach our goals on the court. And it's one thing to say it, and then it's whatever ... But when you have all the tools that the team has given us, it's so much easier to take care of your body."
"And it's really beautiful when you think about it because a lot of teams don't have that," she added. "As a player, sometimes you have to go outside of the team and try to find ways to recover and heal better, but we have it all here."
- Girish Mathrubootham, the son of a retired bank officer who built a $13 billion company in just 10 years
- A couple who traveled to 48 states in an RV share 17 things they would never go on a trip without
- The Taliban is bringing back executions and cutting off hands as punishment after retaking control of Afghanistan
- Ethereum’s scaling issues strike again as TIME Magazine’s NFTs sell for 30 times their price
- Best baby swing cradle and chair in India
- China's FUD drags down Bitcoin, Ether and other cryptocurrencies yet again
- The India Chapter of the International Advertising Association elects Megha Tata as its President for a second term
- The beer ‘cartel’ of Kingfisher, Budweiser and Carlsberg have to cough up ₹870 crore in fines